Yahoo - Calling the 2018-19 offseason a bonanza might be selling it short. Though it's more than two years away, teams already are banking cash in anticipation of it, multiple sources have told Yahoo Sports. The deluge of talent that could be available – Josh Donaldson, Clayton Kershaw, Manny Machado, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Fernandez, Matt Harvey, David Price, Dallas Keuchel, Adam Jones and Jason Heyward – is led by Harper, the reigning National League MVP who will just have turned 26.
Nobody with the Yankees dared comment on Harper, even off the record, because their future marriage is considered so inevitable by most in the sport that the team dare not trifle with tampering charges. Considering the pains to which the Yankees are going to tighten finances, Harper as the endgame makes worlds of sense.
His age – and the ability to cull prime years from a free agent, a rarity – is as much of a selling point as his ability. And Harper's transformation from enfant terrible to the most marketable player in baseball by a large margin fits the Yankees' ethos. Star power matters to the Yankees more than any other team.
Stories like this need to be taken lightly but it's still fun to speculate. Here is what we know...
1. Harper is going to be a National for three more years. At the earliest he will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Harper will have just turned 26.
2. The Yankees spent no money this offseason and have $50 million coming off the books after this season. After 2017 they shed CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez as well. That's a lot of money leaving the payroll in two years.
3. Harper loves baseball history. He talks about it in interviews all the time. You would have to assume the idea of playing for an iconic franchise would interest him, not to mention the short right field porch.
These are the selling points for Yankee fans. There is no way Scott Boras is going to let Harper sign long term with Washington before free agency. He just won NL MVP as a 22 year old and has a chance to get a $400 million contract in a few years. Washington needs to do everything they can to win in the next few years to have a chance at keeping him when the time comes. Regardless of where he ends up his free agency will be a fun story to track for the next few years.
PS look at the rest of the free agents that off-season! I'm sure a lot of them will sign deals before then but it could be baseball's version of the 2010 NBA off-season.